MCB films PBS Great Performances specialCorps member blogs about the experience
Posted 29 October 2011 - 09:32 AM
I felt the editing really distorted the understanding and viewing of the ballets. For example, one movement in "Square Dance" ends in a seated position, and the editing deleted the presentation of the transition to the next movement. The result was jarring and distracting, influencing the viewing of the remainder of the show. The early editing caused an immediate distrust that affected the viewing and enjoyment of the rest of the ballets. The poor editing disrupted the remainder of the show.
In "Square Dance", I admired the dancers, but believed that many looked like they were students (albeit, top level students). I don't know if that was intentional and part of the interpretation. However, it was not what I expected. Learning that RC was recently an apprentice, from the above postings, was an "aha" experience. I did not think the women looked like Balanchine ballerinas. I know the tv distorts heights and widths, but I came away with the feeling that MCB wanted to show tall, extremely thin men with thicker, short women. I really admire these women, but the pairing creating emphases and distortions, perhaps. I want to bake some cookies and send them to Renan. I also did not think the costumes fit some of the dancers. The choreography was very understandable, and the music was extremely attractive, making this a very complete ballet, for me.
Tharp's disproportionate popularity still makes no sense to me. Watching ABT perform a Tharp excerpt on "Works and Process" caused me not to buy City Center tickets. With the MCB performance, I felt like I was watching a pole dancing competition, or a stripper, or show girl. Admittedly, I am prejudiced because I do not enjoy Broadway musicals or other musical theater. I respect the different opinions of people with disparate interests and tastes, but this style of dance makes me think of watching workout videos and bad movies in the 70s and 80s. I do not come away feeling elevated or otherwise affected by any grace.
I saw NYCB perform "Western Symphony" a few weeks ago, and I preferred its performance to that of MCB. I felt the music was somehow off in the MCB performance. The sets made more sense at NYCB, too. The girl who performed the hat sequence was very appealing, as was RC.
Posted 29 October 2011 - 12:16 PM
As for the dancing, I could only watch "Square Dance," but I loved it. I want a DVD! MCB used to come here a lot several years ago, and I've always admired it -- their ease in classical dancing, the combination of respecting a work but making it live. They have a company style, but they also have a company bond. I'm so glad PBS did this. I hope they will show more American companies, in the ballets that we do best.
Posted 29 October 2011 - 02:56 PM
That said, I was pleased to see the company and impressed with what Villella and his dancers have accomplished. It was great to see ballet again on PBS and I plan to write in to say so. Also pleased that MCB presented a mixed bill instead of a full evening presentation of one of the warhorses, or something "contemporary" like San Francisco Ballet's "Othello."
Posted 29 October 2011 - 03:12 PM
Posted 29 October 2011 - 05:02 PM
My personal opinion is, a lot people I know seem to have a problem with NYCB.
I think it was great to see MCB's take on Balanchine. Edward Villela is a legend, and
since he is coming to end of his career, it was nice to see his work expressed and documented for the historical purposes.
I tried to enjoy and not compare to NYCB, ABT or SFB because they are not. However, there has
to be a reason PBS wanted to film the company. They could have done it live in a theater like other
companies but for some reason they filmed it like the old Balanchine works in the studio.
Maybe for historical purposes? Maybe because Edward is coming to an end? Insight into 2nd generation Balanchine?
For me, in time it will be great look into Balanchines legacy.
Saying that, goes for the Golden Section. Not many companies do it, because not many companies
have the ability to. It may not be everyones style or cup of tea. How many people want to forget
what they wore in the 70's or 80's? How any ballerinas can do 'Theme' and then rock out to 70's jazz?
It is a stylistic, period piece... instead of judging that it is cheap, not a show stopper or for everybody..
maybe we could think about why they chose to film this or how amazing that these young dancers can try to mimic
this point in time like no one else. Doesn't the New York Times always try to accuse NYCB of not being
like old-school city ballet? Balanchine is clearly more respected, however at the end of the
day, Balanchine dancers are also following dancers from that era. I give credit to these dancers for
giving it a go even if this piece or period is not well respected. For historical purposes, I think
it has significance.
As for the grins and sets.. Different people show all sorts of emotions when they dance. Miami dancers are known for their passion, youth, joy, speed. Maybe they just love to dance and are having fun? Maybe they are compensating for things they lack? Jeanette Delgardo made the top 10 cultural events of the year from the New Yorker after bringing Square Dance to City Center. She is known for being warm, open, engaging and inviting. Imagine you take away the grin, replace her with someone that is showing you amazing feet but doesn't give anything else.. would that be engaging for tv? For the sets, to me it would not be very interesting for tv to see a typical Balanchine blue screen. Not only do you see how dancers look today, you also see how technology has progressed with the angles and projected sets.
I believe that this program wasn't that impressive when compared to things like Cirque. The leg can only go so high, the body can only
stretch that much. Not trying to project my opinion.. but I fear that most people don't realize is that they filmed MCB because they brought qualities rarely seen or appreciated these days such as speed, precision, movement and joy. Any other major company, the focus is on the
As for the program choice.. Maybe it was up to the Balanchine trust and not MCB or PBS?
Posted 30 October 2011 - 03:37 AM
Posted 30 October 2011 - 04:21 AM
Posted 30 October 2011 - 05:13 AM
Bingo. I was afraid to burst the bubble of her admirers...but that's what I was trying to get at, above, when I wrote "the smile that never ends." The constant camera-cuts to show Jeannette's toothy grin, up-close-and-personal, almost ruined the entire experience for me. Again - Trully Rotten Editing. Even with the hee-haw grin, she's still an amazing dancer.
Posted 30 October 2011 - 06:25 AM
For me, Square Dance (as opposed to the enigmatic Diamonds, for example) allows for this look. The ballet should be experienced as fun and with delight, as well as with technical brilliance. The fun factor -- sheer enjoyment in defiance of the technical difficulty -- is often lost in other dancers' performances. One certainly hears it in the music.
Posted 30 October 2011 - 07:42 AM
I feel the same way. For my taste, the grin suits the exuberance in the music and the choreography, and she does tone it down a bit in the stately opening of the second movement.
Despite the camera work, which often puts us too close or too far away from the dancers, seeing this performance on the screen does more for me than NYCB's did at the Kennedy Center this spring. You Floridians are fortunate!
Posted 30 October 2011 - 09:14 AM
Posted 30 October 2011 - 03:34 PM
One thing that just becomes more noticeable each time that I see the MCB is how human they are and spontaneous they seem, how expansively warm and 'lovable' they are. And yet they are so totally right on as professionals and accomplished artists. An amazing and wonderful combination.
One mention about "Square Dance" and its lead male dancer, Renan Cerdeiro . I like very much his solo. I believe that George Balanchine added this in his revision and for me it shows an interesting maturity in his vision. There is some of the technical brilliance that permeates the entire "Square Dance," in this case two tricky variety of spins, but what is possibly more compelling is the reliance on pure expression. I think a lot can be made of this. It could point out another powerful direction for dance into the future. Once again, in my mind, George Balanchine was reaching beyond.
I also saw the company in Paris last summer, many months after this was filmed. Renan Cerdeiro had by then developed even more depth and sensitivity -- very, very noticeable.
On more thought, since Edward Villella is about to retire. I hope that he at least plans to continue contributing to the company and/or the artistic world in some major fashion. In Paris, at his customary question and answer session, he responded to a question about how he selects his dancers. He replied with the rather unexpected and candidly heart touching answer that his first criteria is how Nice the dancers are, because it is essential that everyone should get along with each other as well as possible. It certainly shows in the performances and what a fine testimonial it is to the fine work that he and the company have accomplished.
Posted 30 October 2011 - 05:24 PM
Watching The Golden Section, I kept thinking "Solid Gold Dancers". Which means I'm old enough to remember the originals. Which means I'm just old. Personally I would have chosen a different middle section piece to show off MCB's skills. I will say that The Golden Section gave the men an opportunity to really eat up space.
I didn't mind the introductory cheerleading by Andy Garcia (an underrated actor) or the Miami "filler" that followed (although I switched channels to watch some Skate Canada rebroadcasting).
Posted 30 October 2011 - 07:25 PM
Aren't we...? Having Michael Tilson and his Orchestra and Eddie and his troupe surrounded by sun and beaches all year around sounds good, right...?
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